Saturday, December 24, 2011

Heritage Irises 2011 Year in Review


HERITAGE IRISES has been around in the blogosphere for over four years now and its hard to imagine my life without it. (sad huh).

The bloom season for me in 2011 was erratic and many New Zealand growers reported a bloom season that came late by 2 weeks. At home, not only was it late, it all came at the same time for the Standard Dwarf Bearded and Intermediates, Dutch and English Irises and early flowering Tall Bearded. Then the strong Nor-westerly winds of up to 140 kph wasted the iris bloom several times during the season, and about half the Irises did not bloom at all, so all and all a disappointing bloom season.

'Heritage Irises' measured success and the many Google #1 page ranks it has received for subject matter has been achieved without links from Iris Societies web sites making visitor numbers accurate and avoiding 'Iris Churn' also Google does not track my own page views. Referring sites are almost all search engines.

The Internet is not the "be-all-and-end-all", nor is it going to be, it's a telephone party line, a broadcasting medium, an Archive, a Library, a Botanical Garden, a Public Park and the Garden Centre. Sure, it puts a digital spin on each of those things, but it's fundamentally the same, not fundamentally different. I don't have, facebook, twotter, squidly or any other of the try hard so called 'social media' bunk, if you want social networking, go to a cocktail party, a community barbecue, a street party, or try and overthrow a government.

My awards this year are somewhat like the 2011 European Economy, on negative watch sprinkled with a small amount of positive.

Time for the Awards

BEST IRIS PUBLICATION, Bulletin or Journal for 2011 (That I receive, and I receive a few) goes to 'Tall Talk,' for its 'Content', 'Content' and wait for it,'Content'. Its a great read. Now I do not want to encourage another deluge of emails on this subject but, 'Just how is it that there seems to be more content in some Commercial Growers Catalogue's than in some Official Iris Societies Bulletins???'

MY 'I DONT THINK SO AWARD' for 2011 was a copy of a report sent to me regarding a Iris Website which included the following point of interest, "If the society were to pay for a site like this it would be spending between $5,000.00- $10,000.00". Now having visited the said Web Site I cannot see where one thousand dollars could have possibly been spent on it let alone ten times the quoted value. Web Sites are so Static and when will some web-masters get to understand that unless its new and informative and current, visitor numbers will just fade away.

THE 'LETS COMPLAIN SOME MORE AWARD' goes to a editorial comment which is a bit of an old chestnut actually, and no doubt you have heard it before. It goes something like this, "send more information and photos after all this is your bulletin blah blah blah." I always smile when I read these articles and you may hear me mumble "What's the big deal??? Write a Blog you have to do it all yourself !!!"

THE IRIS LIKEJACKING AWARD for Tricking users of a social media site, especially on Facebook, activated by clicking a “like,” “fave” or “thumbs up” button goes to the AIS Facebook Page. To view the American Iris Society Facebook pages the Welcome page message currently reads "The American Iris Society. Please click, "Like," above, to get started, then go to the Wall tab to browse around. Thank you for visiting."
 Just how do you know you are going to like it?? you haven't seen anything yet !!!!! They count these 'likes' as members!! Gives the facebook page a 'Please like me I'm really desperate' look.(Almost got my 'Worst of the Worst' award as well)

WORST OF THE WORST AWARD, goes to selling Irises on the internet for a 'Trade Me' listing of a common garden Iris Pallida hybrid listed as "One (1) Rare Spring Flower Lilac Blue Bearded Iris" I mean what is rare about it?? not sure if it is just a selling point or the seller needs to get out more often or just lives in a plain old fantasy world. The majority of Iris listings on Trade Me are most likely to be genuine but sellers who use photos that are not theirs to use (Its Called Theft) always makes me think that maybe the iris they are selling is not what they say it is, and after all the purchaser is going to have to wait until next bloom season to see if they are genuine or not, why take the risk!!! It never ceases to amaze me the amount of coin some people spend purchasing Irises on 'Trade Me' when they could buy the same Iris for many dollars less from a Commercial Grower and in most cases get a better rhizome with a guaranteed name.

MY 'RECOVERING LUDDITE FOR 2011' would have to go to a Publicity Chair who recently labelled members without a computer as "Internet Challenged" and insulting the members who made observations regarding the error of his ways by informing them that "complaining is their art form not producing results".

Reading the latest NZ iris clubs 2011 booklet, (I do this so that you don't have to.) the club has lost its editor and does not have a replacement, so potentially there will be no publication, and will anyone be sure if the membership will notice.
While we are on the subject of the NZ iris club I received anonymously in the mail a few days ago a complete set of the last seven years of NZ iris club booklets. My first thought was that I could wrap them up for the office Secret Santa, but that just seemed a bit cruel for the potential recipient. It took me awhile, but I figured that they where sent to me as a sort of 'Chain Booklet' so I added the years 2001 to 2002 to the parcel and sent them on to someone I am sure firmly believes that there are fairies at the bottom of the garden and so its quite possible that he might try and see some merit in the parcels contents, but I'm not holding my breath.

 Anyway Merry Christmas to all of you, and thanks for your visits to the blog, for your understanding when I have my rants and raves, thanks to the comment makers, also to those who don't comment but often visit to read, Thanks to the Worlds Iris Hybridisers both past and present for whom I have the utmost respect,to the contributors of Photos, and also to the International readers and contributors.

All the Very best for 2012 and may your New Year be full of family, Irises, laughter and love.
See you later and thanks for 2011.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tall Bearded Heirloom Iris "EASTER BONNET"

Bred by Luke Norton and Alexander Maxwell both of Yakima Washington, "Easter Bonnet" is a no fuss heirloom iris I found in a paddock growing alongside an old dilapidated house that is still been used for storing hay, it was fighting for survival amongst the tall grass an indication of its will to survive. Sun fast flowers on tall branched stems, with high health glaucous green foliage. It's a sixty eight year old Iris, that inherited its classic form from both its classy parents, the pod parent bred by Dr P.A.Loomis' is the large rose-pink self, "Morocco Rose" this was crossed with "Alastor" the deep cyclamen pink with an underlay of gold bred by R.E Spender who was the Editor of the Iris Year Book (BIS) 1932-1939, and also co-authored the book,' Iris Culture for Amateurs' (Country Life Ltd,1937).

Often photos of Easter Bonnet are sent to me enquiring if it is a lost "Jean Stevens" iris which it obviously is not, but I have no doubt she would have been very proud to raise it.
 A bright and elegant historic Iris that you’ll find yourself drawn back to time and time again.

From National Iris Gardens 33rd. Catalog 1949
EASTER BONNET (Maxwell 1946) M. 38" H.M. A.I.S. 1946 : Put on your Easter Bonnet with the bands of gold upon it! Truly a beautiful blush pink with an unbelievable gold band on both standards and falls. A must have for the unusual. $3.00

Tell Iris Gardens Iris Catalog and Hybridizers Handbook 1951
EASTER BONNET (Maxwell-Norton,1944) M (Morocco Rose' X 'Alastor) Rodenite pink edged gold. H.M.46. $1.00

From Lyon's Irisland Catalog 1951

EASTER BONNET (Maxwell 1946) An enticing color, rhodenite pink, bordered with a half-inch margin of burnished gold on both the standards and the falls. A golden flush to the heart of the flower combines with a gold beard to make this startling new color combination very attractive. Mid-season. 36". $2.00

AIS Checklist 1949
EASTER BONNET (Maxwell-Norton, R. 1943). TB, 40", L.S7M, Morocco Rose X Alastor. Maxwell & Norton 1943. HM A.I.S. 1946

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tall Bearded Iris "LUNAR FIRE"

American Iris breeder Dave Hall was renown for his breeding of irises with tangerine beards. 20 years after he introduced his first flamingo pinks with tangerine beards  'Lunar Fire' was introduced. It's a beautiful flower, good substance and very full, the petals are just slightly laced at the edges, and of medium size when compared to more modern irises. The colour is best described as pale apricot with tangerine red beards. Height is 90 cm or 36 inches with average branching. Grows well at home with moderate increase but can sometimes miss a bloom season. A solid and stunning coloured Historic Iris which was sold until recently commercially in New Zealand, I purchase my plants  in 2006.

 AIS Checklist
LUNAR FIRE    (D. Hall, R. 1963). Sdlg. 59-107. TB 36" M. YO5.    Golden amber self. From two yellow sdlgs., Cooley 1963. HM 1964.

Gilbert H. Wild and Son. Inc. An Outstanding Selection of Quality Peonies- Iris- Daylilies
LUNAR FIRE (Hall 1963)
36in. A big spreading lace-edged flower of golden amber hues, the sharply contrasting beard a blazing tangerine red. In addition to form and size it has petals of extra heavy thickness and very stout well branched stems.H.M. 1964

Courtesy Cooley's Iris Gardens

Cooley's Gardens catalog for 1963
 Featured in color on our cover. . . . a big, spreading, lace-edged flower of golden amber hues, the sharply contrasting beard a blazing tangerine red. Dave Hall worked for years breeding this series and this one has been singled out as superior to all its kinfolk. In addition to form and size it has petals of extra heavy thickness and very stout well-branched stems. No. 59-107 . Each $25.00"

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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New Zealand Iris Grower "Mossburn Iris Gardens"

Mossburn Iris Gardens
P.O.Box 96, Mossburn
Phone/Fax 03 2486373
After receiving the Lucy Delany Award in 2010, the Standard Dwarf  Bearded Iris 'Alamosa' featured on this years catalogue cover received a Highly Commended award at the New Zealand Iris society Convention 2011. This years catalogue introductions are HENHAM, KIM MAREE, KINKAID, and SAY SO, four new SDB registered by Noel Lapham.
 The cold climate of the gardens, produce Medium Size rhizomes which are of good health.  Irises purchased from 'Mossburn Iris Gardens' will adapt well to growing in your garden wherever it is located in NZ. Prices are competitive. Catalogue lists a good selection of Miniature, Standard, Border, Intermediate, and Tall bearded Irises, manly modern irises and of course the introductions of Noel Lapham. I have featured Noel's outstanding introduction 'Prize Lady'  in an earlier post.
Bev and Noel Lapham are the owners of Mossburn Iris Garden, Southland, who are good to deal with and answer emails generally within 24 hours.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011


Catching the early morning sun, nearly said it all!!!! Visitors to the blog know I have a strong affection for Broken Colour Irises and 'MILLENNIUM FALCON' would have to take the cake, it is an extraordinary strong Iris that ticks all the boxes. Anyway I could wax lyrical regarding this Iris but, the master of reviews 'Perry Dyer' writing in his CONTEMPORARY VIEWS – 2002 already beat me to the punch and it is his compendious point of view that I have copied for you all below.

'The 9-1-1 AWARD is given to the New Iris that is, in my opinion, the most significant hybridizing achievement or color break, of the varieties I have seen. It was hard to put one above another this year, as far as impact and importance are concerned. But finally, I gave the nod to MILLENNIUM FALCON (Kasperek 2000), a choice Color Breaker of the highest quality. I would say this is the culmination of the intense dedicated work Brad has done in this style of iris, but I won’t, because I expect great, festive things from him for years to come! Even if you have snubbed Color Breakers as “freaks”, and wouldn’t dare consider “lowering your standards” to support (translation: VOTE) for one of these things, well, you’re just gonna have to get over it! Millennium Falcon has all the poise and sophistication of the best of the “non-spashers” (!), and is a complete package, with strong plant habits, consistent growth, resistance to adverse weather conditions, flowers with broad, architecturally sound form, and that all-important quality – PERSONALITY. It is basically a neglecta, with light blue standards with a touch of lavender in their makeup and elegant white streaking, and rich royal blue falls with the white streaking with a bit more intensity.'

Say's it all don't you think!!!

AIS Checklist 1999
MILLENNIUM FALCON (Brad Kasperek, registered 1998) Seedling 94B-23C. TB, height 38" (97 cm), mid season bloom. Standards light wistaria blue (RHS 92A), silver white (155D) streaks; style arms violet blue; falls rich royal blue (89B), silver white streaks; beards orange, hairs tipped blue; broken color pattern; ruffled; slight fragrance. 'Gnus Flash' X 92B-49Z: ('Batik' x 89B-42E: ('Rustic Dance' x 'Maria Tormena')). Zebra 2000. Honorable Mention 2002, Award of Merit 2004, Wister Medal 2008.

Zebra Gardens is t
he Hybridiser Brad Kasperek web site, and displays all his exciting new releases 

Selling this year in New Zealand at 'Amazing Iris Garden'

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Zealand Heirloom Tall Bearded Iris "WYCHNOR"

It may be interesting to some perhaps that the New Zealand heirloom iris 'Wychnor' was thought to be registered for decades, but when researching New Zealand iris history I found this to be not the case. A couple of days ago I dug out the file on 'Wychnor' and included were the toing and froing of correspondence by emails to John Vickers advising him of this oversight prior to John thoughtfully registering the iris in 2006.

A white garden Iris which displays a lot of the colourations of 'Purissima'. Strong grower with flax green foliage, buds display a bluish tinge before opening. Flowers are large and well proportioned, standards are white, falls white with a cream centre and soft light green veining with olive gold striations on the hafts. The underside of the falls shows an olive green midline. A cross of the Morh-Mitchell White 'Purrissima' with Jean Stevens creamy yellow 'New Dawn'.
The hybridiser Pattie Levett lived with her sister Olga at the Levett family homestead "Beccles" in a small town called Bulls, in the North Island of New Zealand. Daughters of Mrs E Levett (Nina), the sisters never married. 'Beccles' was one of the earliest New Zealand gardens to grow Irises that Mrs Levett imported mainly from Germany at the turn of the twentieth century creating a unique collection of irises. Bulls is also where Jean and Wally Stevens started out growing Irises together just after their marriage in 1935. The Steven's Bros. Nursery introduced Miss Levett Irises.
This iris is a piece of 'New Zealand history plus' was kindly sent to me by John Vickers and is sourced from the Levett garden. I have grown on some additional Rhizomes which will be sent to Massey University for planting in their grounds early next year.

Steven's Bros. catalogue for 1946-47
WYCHNOR (Levett)
An Excellent pure white of clean cut rounded form and remarkable substance. Of largest size, the flowers have that new quality of clean even texture we are coming to associate with the newest irises. Very free flowering and an excellent doer. 3½ ft.

New Zealand Hybridisers Checklist
WYCHNOR Pattie F. Levett deceased, by John Vickers, Reg., 2006.TB, 41″, (103cm) L. Pure white self, cream around beard, soft grey-green veining on hafts; beards white at end cream in middle, gold in throat; slight fragrance. Purissima X New Dawn. Stevens Bros. Wanganui 1946-47

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Zealand Tall Bearded Iris "IRWELL INDIAN MAID"

'Irwell Indian Maid' is another delightful concoction from Ron Busch. Lightly fluted Standards are a oxblood red with darker markings.  Falls also lightly fluted are coloured dark chocolate brown with a oxblood red pattern and have a dramatic overlay of golden yellow and white changing to a deep violet intensifies the pattern, accented with an old gold beard. Strong clean foliage that shows strong purple colouration at the base.
I must admit that my first instinct was to class this Iris as a Plicata or a 'barely-plicata' type Iris but my curiosity got the better of me so I wrote to Keith Keppel for his point of view. His expert impression is "Lines" have come more to the fore recently as a new (or revised) pattern option.  Pattern as opposed to "haft marks", that is. 'Irwell Indian Maid' seems to be carrying the line theme to the extreme, with the upper fall white to yellow allowing the pattern to be seen well, and the lines, so closely set, to be appreciated."

Here's hoping some adventurous New Zealand Hybridisers think about this iris with its incredible breeding potential.

Carol Rogerson the owner of South Pacific Epiphyllums is responsible for this incredible photo and Heritage Irises are privileged to display her spot on photography which once again shows off another of the Irwell breeding stable. South Pacific Epiphyllums will be offering a limited selection of Irwell Irises this season.

New Zealand Hybridisers Checklist
IRWELL INDIAN MAID  Ron Busch Reg., 2007. Sdlg. 9231/52  TB, 38″, (97cm), M. S. copper rose; style arms copper and gold; F. white veined red copper, solid colour at tips, violet blush below bronze beard. Involved parentage which includes Lady Friend,  Latin Lover, Lula Marguerite, Velvet Robes, Laurie, Rococo, Taholah, Pipes of Pan, Commentary, Emma Cook, Jungle Fires, Rich Melody,  Mary Randall, Neon Lights, Rippling Waters,  X Indian Red luminata seedling. Rossmore Iris Gardens 2008.

Photo Credit and Copyright Carol Rogerson, South Pacific Epiphyllums

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Zealand Heirloom Tall Bearded Iris 'PINNACLE'

A collection of New Zealand bred Irises is just not complete without a good selection of Jean Stevens Irises, and a Collection of Jean Stevens Heirloom Irises would never be worthy unless it included 'Pinnacle' the Iris that epitomised Jeans imagination of an iris with a unique colouration, coupled with the many years of determination and self belief of her skill in line breeding by staying true to course.

I still firmly believe that most New Zealand Irisarians have no real comprehension of the impact the outstanding iris "Pinnacle" had in the Iris world at the time and still has today, also the logistics of co-ordinating the growing of enough plants to send to commercial growers for sufficient stock for 'Pinnacle' be introduced simultaneously in both New Zealand and America in just 4 years after its first flowering and registration, all achieved with the absent of the logistical support that today we just take for granted, is an truly amazing feat in it self.

Schreiner's, Salem,Oregon. Iris lovers Catalog 1949
PINNACLE (Stevens 1949) M. 38”
It takes an outstanding Iris to carry this significant name but this is an outstanding Iris. Developed in New Zealand, it was instantly apparent when the first flower unfurled that here was one of those significant “breaks” in hybridizing, the creation of something distinctly different. So impressed were we with this Iris that we offer it this year to the Iris public as an American introduction.
Pinnacle is pre-eminent both in beauty of colouration and perfection of form. This distinguished Iris is a unique because of its singular colour combination - absolutely clear white standards and snooze primrose yellow falls. The blooms are wax like and beautifully molded. The good habits, branching, heavy substance and colors of daffodil freshness combine to give us a lovely, lovely Iris.
We greatly regret that we are unable to get a good reproduction of this Iris due to some imperfection in the color film. In our years of experience with Iris we have never seen an Iris like this. In fact so highly do we regard it that we feel it merits placement in the 100 Best Iris. We consider it one of the finest Iris it has been our privilege to offer. $20.00 (Note Pinnacle was featured the next year on the cover of Schreiner's 1950 Catalog see below)

 We feel honoured that we have been designated the American Agents for the distribution of the Iris creations of Mrs Jean Stevens of Wanganui, New Zealand. This discerning hybridizer, creator of such fine Iris as Inspiration and Pinnacle, to mention but two has forwarded an extensive collection of her developments to us and we expect to have many in full bloom for the meeting of the American Iris Society in Oregon this spring. Because of the fact that Iris from the southern hemisphere must be adjusted to the inversion of the seasons it generally takes a year or two for the plants to become ‘straightened around.’ Both we and the originator are interested in releasing only those kinds that have intrinsic worth and are distinctly different. We can assure our Iris friends that there are some exceptional Iris on the horizon from this fine hybridizer and we are impatient to increase our stock so we can offer Mrs Stevens’ fine, rose coloured Challenge in another year. We await the coming blooming season with keen interest.

Stevens Bros. Bastia Hill, Wanganui. IRISES 1949-1950.
PINNACLE (Stevens)
Many years ago we set out to raise an Iris with standards of purest white and forms of gold, being moved thereto by our pleasure in this fresh and lovely combination. Little by little as the years went by we have seen these colours developing amongst our seedlings until in November 1944 there unfolded this flower, which by reason of its snow-white standards rising from its primrose yellow falls we have named Pinnacle. It is not the white and gold of our original ambition-this is yet to be introduced-and is a very different combination. Pinnacle is large and beautifully formed and with excellent substance, and the plant has ideal growth habit.
Fresh, cool, flawless in its purity of colouring, and absolutely unique, this Iris has already bought us laurels from that land of fine Iris, America, where it has made its début this year. Pinnacle is to us the seal of success, a source of much gratification since this Iris had to stand against the challenge of irises from the world's best breeders.
Had there not been so great demand for Pinnacle overseas we would have been able to introduce it last year, but all surplus stocks have been sent to Oregon for the last two years so that it might be introduced simultaneously there and here. Reports are all ready to hand of its sensational flowering and acceptance by the American Iris lovers, and it gives us a very real pleasure to offer it to our New Zealand and Australian clients. The price is higher than we like to ask for a new Iris, but it will be years before the are sufficient stocks to meet the phenomenal demand, as more stocks are still required in America and England. We hope to colour plate this Iris next year from blocks made in America last May. 3½ ft. 105 shillings

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1949, page 86, “The Oregon meeting and Impressions of the Iris Season” by Harold W. Knowlton.
 “Saturday morning we took the bus to Schreiner's gardens, at Salem, about 50 miles south of Portland. Here we also saw a commercial growing on a large scale. Robert, Bernard, and Connie Schreiner have only recently moved the garden from Minnesota, but you would think the well-established fields had been there a long time..... There we saw what I consider the most outstanding new development that I have seen this year. It was an Iris with beautiful domed white standards and yellow flaring falls. The standards were really white without any infusion of yellow are a colour combination which many have striven for. It is called ‘Pinnacle’ and was bred by Mrs Stevens, a New Zealand hybridiser. The plant had a nicely branched stalk and is a real ‘yellow amoena’ if that is the proper designation.

Courtesy Schreiner's Iris Lovers Catalog 1950

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, July, 1949, Number 114.
'Iris from New Zealand', Robert Schreiner.
“About six years in correspondence with Mrs Jean Stevens of New Zealand, we discussed problems relating to the creation of newer amoenas in which we were mutually interested. She mentioned a break which occurred in her seedlings. This plant 1/P78 was a new type Iris was absolutely pure white standards and rich primrose yellow falls. The very striking feature was the sharp contrast standards being pure white without a touch of or hint of cream or yellow. As soon as a plant could be spared a root was forwarded to us at the United States. In due time allowing for acclimatisation since New Zealand been in the Southern Hemisphere has reversed seasons two hours we flowered the striking and original plant. It took about two seasons of this plant to become oriented to its new home and during this time Mrs Stevens, intrigued by the unusualness of this Iris carried on further extensive crossings. Soon she had 1200 seeds of it and its sisters. However, she too found the troublesome difficulty of germination which we experienced with the blue and white amoena but constant endeavour through constant crossing eventually paid off in the flowering of a much superior plant. This was the Iris Pinnacle, which is indeed a breeding triumph. We flowered this newest development in 1947, and in our estimation it is one of the most original colour creations attained. The dazzling white standards and lemon yellow falls are unique. The combination is chaste yet bright. As a garden subject it carries wonderfully and the perfection of the flower with its fine poise and extra thick leathery substance accentuates its individuality. As far as I can recall I have never seen an Iris at any time with this definite colour pattern. There have been a number of inverted bicolors with standards yellow and falls white but as far as I can recall this is the first time white standards and yellow falls have appeared in such perfection this true white and yellow amoena has the distinctiveness of Wabash combined with yellow tones giving a picture of ensuring loveliness.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, July, 1949, Number 115.
'Iris Impressions-1949', Jesse E. Wills.
Everyone felt that Bob, Constance and Bernard Schreiner had done a remarkable job considering the comparatively short time they had been in Oregon. Bob's new house on the corner was admired. Everyone looked at the fine expanse of irises as they were growing now and tried to visualize the display garden that is to be. I was most interested in seeing 'Pinnacle' here and there were long rows of it growing well. I like it, but at the same time did not feel that it was finished or complete of its type. The falls are pale Primrose yellow, so that there is not too much contrast between them and the standards, and the haft is somewhat rough with white lines on it. On the other hand the form is excellent and it really is a white and yellow bicolour. So many irises approaching this type have cream standards, with a splash of yellow color at the haft fading out to white or cream at the edge of the falls. Pinnacle has pure white standards in the falls while light in color are a smooth yellow to the edge. I liked it better than 'New Era' of the Sass's which has too much green and too many lines in the falls.

Fairmount Gardens, Lowell, Massachusetts. Irises, Hemerocallis, Hostas, Poppies, 1950.
PINNACLE (Stevens, 1949) M. Heralded as a new break in color combination, this iris has clear white standards and smooth very light yellow falls. I might be described as a white and yellow amoena that is distinctly different from any other iris. It was the centre of attention in the Schreiner garden at the time of the 1949 annual meeting. Stock limited. H.M.A.I.S. 1949. 38in.............................................................................$15.00  

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1950, page 69,'Pick your Parents' by Sydney B. Mitchell
Greater contrast between the ground colour and the markings of Plicata's by removal of the cleanliness of the former and a sharpening of the marginal markings is still in the future, and not too easy. In bi-colours too, the greater the contrast between the standards in the falls the better. In this Mrs Stevens's PINNACLE is a real advance over the approach to a white and yellow bicolour I got in FAIR ELAINE. I understand her newer SUMMIT deepens the yellow of the falls while keeping the white standards and is therefore a further step, perhaps the ultimate one in that combination, though it will certainly lead to more and different bicolour combinations. Most breeders, particularly of show flowers, seek to eliminate half venation, which seems to coarsen the effect, although the general public is little bothered by it.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, October, 1950. Number 119.
Iris Prone and Iris, Progress. John Dolman, Jr.(Pennsylvania)
In the afternoon of June 10 I arrived at Auburndale, to find the Knowlton garden past its peak and the hot sun taking a heavy toll. Mr. and Mrs. Knowlton were away at the Sioux City meeting, but he had asked me to do some crossing for him, and I went right to work in the effort to get ahead of the weather man.
Here I had my first view of Pinnacle, which had not bloomed for me, and got a good deal of satisfaction out of crossing it both ways for Mr. Knowlton. He had a row of seedlings (from a cross involving Bush Kingsford) that showed a strong tendency toward yellow amoena coloring, and I crossed them liberally with Pinnacle. I saw Pinnacle in three New England gardens, and like it very much. As in my own garden, it had made good increase, and looked like a strong grower. Stems were not full height in proportion to flower size, but they were well branched, and will no doubt go higher in the second year. The flowers were large, and of fair form and substance, though not quite as airy as in their cover-girl picture, and not quite as free of veining. Pinnacle is not the ultimate of perfection, but it is a good iris, and quite the nearest thing to a clean yellow amoena yet introduced. It will surely be popular, and its vigorous increase should make it quickly available to iris lovers everywhere.

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1950, page 87, “Impressions of the 1950 Iris Season” by Kenneth Romney Towndrow
Mr Pilkington showed for the first time a Westminster I believe, Mrs Stevens's PINNACLE. the white standards and lemon falls are beautifully cool and the plant should prove to be extremely useful as border relief

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1950, page 99, “Reflections on Iris Breeding Today” by Geddes Douglas
The greatest single advance that has occurred in years is the New Zealand iris PINNACLE. its standards are pure white, while the falls are yellow, and this iris will without doubt become the parent of a whole race of irises of related colors and patterns.
AIS Bulletin #119 October, 1950, Regional Reports page 90 "Region 16 Mrs Harry Bickle, R.V.P. Canada"
Pinnacle from New Zealand, Mrs Stevens's great achievement with pure white standards and primrose falls, bloomed magnificently. The stem and branching are good, and the foliage strong, while the beautifully formed flowers had all the freshness of spring. It is most desirable.

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, October, 1950. Number 119.
Regional Reports; Region 16- RVP Mrs. Harry Bickle, Canada.
Pinnacle from New Zealand, Mrs. Steven's great achievement, with pure white standards and primrose. falls, bloomed magnificently. The stem and branching were good and the foliage strong, while the beautifully formed flowers had all the freshness of spring. It is most desirable.

Region 17- RVP, Harry Thomas, Oklahoma.
In most of our region we grow the bearded irises as well as I have seen them grown anywhere. Pinnacle looked better in Guy Rogers' garden this spring than it did in Oregon last year. Extravaganza was better in Oklahoma City than it was in Nashville in 1948.
really different. White standards,· yellow falls. Sharp contrast. One of the best new introductions.

The Iris Year Book (BIS) 1950, "America Re-Visited", H. J. Randall C.B.E.

PINNACLE is perhaps the best introduction we have had from New Zealand; but in spite of the praise lavished upon it I have to express my disappointment. The standards are beautifully white but the yellowish falls have neither good shape nor clear colouring. It is however a notable “break” and should be very useful in breeding. I may add that I should have been very proud to raise it.

Tells Iris Gardens, Provo, Utah, 1952 Iris Catalog and Hybridizers Handbook.
PINNACLE (Stevens 1949). E-M.(Magnolia) X ((Gudrun) x (Lady Morvyth x Rangitira)). Clean contrastin a yellow amoena. Destined to be highly popular and much used in Hybridising.H.M.1949, A.M.1951............$10.00

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, July, 1952. Number 126.
"Dark Horses" of Irisdom, Dr. Frank B. Galyon, Jr., Michigan.
While discussing the unusual bicolors, I can't resist the temptation to mention my feelings about the iris Pinnacle, which is found on both lists of 100. With its introduction there was placed on the market one of the two greatest color breaks of recent years, the other being the tangerine beard. In its newness it was certainly sensational, for there had not yet been marketed before its release an iris with pure white standards and light yellow falls. It may hold great breeding possibilities for developing new types. This will only be proved or disproved with the blooming of numerous seedlings from this variety. Pinnacle has certain obvious faults, and I think these should not be minimised. For one thing, the stalk is short and the flowers tend to be bunched at the top of the stem. (EDITOR'S NOTE: On a two year plant in Nashville in 1952, Pinnacle grew to 36 in. and the branching was adequate.) The color in the falls is not smoothly applied, but rather tends toward being streaked-though the streaking is not prominent. Also the shape of the flower leaves something to be desired. In spite of these failings, it remains an attractive garden iris, being both very floriferous and very vigorous of growth. Let's recognize it for what it is-the first in line of a new color combination in irises. Surely there will be much better irises of this same general color pattern developed in the near future I but meanwhile let's grow it for its originality and attractiveness.

The Iris Yearbook (BIS) 1953, page 78, “Report from America in 1953” by Catherine Hemingway Smith
 Pinnacle (Stevens) performed in exemplary fashion wherever it was grown in New England gardens. The standards were clear white and well domed with broad flaring falls of a good light yellow; it was what it was said to be, a yellow and white bicolor.

Lyon Iris Garden, Van Nuys, California. Lyon's Irisland Catalog, 1953.
PINNACLE (Stevens 1949)
Tranquil in its new color combination. It's standards are clear cool white, contrasted with smooth primrose falls. Luminous enamel finished flowers. Midseason. 35" Award of Merit 1951.

Cooleys Gardens, Silverton, Oregon. Iris Catalog 1965
PINNACLE (Stevens 1949)
Standards of clear sparkling white and well formed broad falls of clean primrose yellow. Bred in New Zealand ; it is a good grower with perfect branching on 3 foot stems. H.M.1949, A.M.1951, A.I.S

Still available today !!!!
Breezeway Iris Garden, Brooklyn, Wisconsin Catalogue 2011
 PINNACLE - 35", M, Jean Stevens, 1945
Large and beautifully formed crinkled white standards over soft yellow falls with yellow beard. Excellent substance, ideal growth habit, fresh, cool, flawless in its purity of colouring and absolutely unique - A true classic! $2.00

New Zealand Iris Hybridisers Checklist
PINNACLE Mrs J. Stevens, Reg., 1945. Sdlg. 9/RA103.TB, 35″ , M, W6M; S. Pure white. F. pale primrose, good form, substance and branching. 3ft.; Description J Stevens Studbook notes,‘1945 blooming’; (Magnolia) X ((Gudrun) x (Lady Morvyth x Rangitira)). (Note seedling number 5/RA103 changed to 9/RA103 refer J.S. 1944 blooming notes) Schreiner 1950, 'Novelties' Stevens Bros. 1949-50 H.M. 1949, A.M. 1951, A.I.S.

Pinnacle was first mentioned in the New Zealand Gardener, September, 1947, Cover story "When is a flower really New"?

The above photo is 'Pinnacle' growing in my garden at home eliminating the need to borrow a photo from an overseas photo collection but I guess Mrs Chair needs to make out that they are sliding around busy doing something.

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

New Zealand Tall Bearded Iris "IRWELL FESTIVE LOVE"

In the modern 'barely-plicata' type Iris, the outstanding leaders of the pack are Barry Blyth's overlooked, but super beautiful 'Lipstick Lies' (1985), and more recently Paul Blacks internationally acclaimed 'Goldkist'(1993).
We now need to add to this list of outstanding leaders,
'Irwell Festive Love',(2007) another magnificent hybridizing achievement of Ron Busch, .
The pure white standards are slightly open, ruffled and upright . Falls are also white with purple violet stitched on the shoulders fading to a lighter olive tone towards the edges, horizontally flared with just the right amount of ruffles. Add to this a bright lemon beard, and you have a unique plus iris.
Ron's registered and catalogue descriptions of his iris are rather uneventful, and writing descriptions are probably not one of his favourite 'Thing's to Do', but this does have the tendency for the reader's imagination to underrate the iris 
Carol Rogerson the owner of South Pacific Epiphyllums sent me this photo just the other day with a note regarding Ron Busch irises that read, "Reading the descriptions of these iris doesn't really prepare you for when they flower! There is quite lot going on in each and every one of them, they really make you stop and stare and they are great photo subjects". (Sums it up really well don't you think.) It is also great to see that Ron Busch irises bloom well on the outskirts of Auckland, an area not renowned for the growing of Tall Bearded Irises.

Ron Busch stands tall among the very few past and present New Zealand's Iris Hybridiser of note, and the depth of quality in his introductions will unquestionably become a Mecca for the 'up and coming' hybridisers.

New Zealand Iris Hybridisers Cumulative Checklist 2011
IRWELL FESTIVE LOVE  Ron Busch, Reg., 2006. Sdlg. 1405-1183. TB, 38″, (97 cm), M. White self, F. have violet veining around lemon beard. Involved Irwell sdlg. lines. Rossmore Iris Gardens 2008.

Ron Busch correspondence to me shows It comes from an involved parentage that includes Festive Skirt, Hay Ride, Tuxedo, Rich Melody, Land of Judah, Lady Friend,  Latin Lover, Lula Marguerite,Velvet Robes, Laurie, Rococo,Taholah,Commentary, Bang, Melodrama, Earthling, Festive Skirt.

Clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo Credit and Copyright Carol Rogerson, South Pacific Epiphyllums

Reproduction in whole or in part of this post, and its opinions or its images without the expressed written permission of Terry Johnson or Heritage Irises is strictly prohibited.

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New Zealand Iris Grower "South Pacific Epiphyllums"

Carol Rogerson is the owner of South Pacific Epiphyllums .The nursery is a small home based friendly family business, mail order only with an emphasis on quality of plants and service with a small but ever increasing range of bearded iris, particularly New Zealand bred iris.They have a good selection of "Irwell" irises and  is hoping to offer small numbers of a select few this season.
Carol also sells epiphyllum hybrids and has her own extensive hybridising programme taking place.
I have known Carol for several years and first met her when purchasing Irises on 'Trade Me' and have been impressed with the quality of her plants.  You will find Carol's web site listed in the New Zealand Iris Links on the left hand side of this blog or just click on the South Pacific Epiphyllums web page shown above. Have fun!!!

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tall Bearded Iris "BEACH GIRL"

Another of Barry Blyth's long blooming Apricot Tan Amoena line with typical classy form. Creamy white standards are gracefully edged gold and have just a blush of pink in the midribs. Falls are a solid Apricot Tan which are illuminated with a piping hot tangerine reddish beard. Medium size blooms with eight to ten buds on each good strong stalks. Great health with average increase and most importantly fertile both ways. A slight sweet fragrance enhances the appeal. Once you have a mature clump established 'Beach Girl' will bloom its socks of for you for the full length of the Tall Bearded bloom season. Quick to attract attention, it is a seriously good garden variety!!
'Beach Girl' has a longer blooming season than the 1986 Barry Blyth introduction of a similar class 'Oriental Alabaster'

 AIS Checklist 1989
BEACH GIRL (B. Blyth, R. 1983). Sdlg. P49-3. TB 39" (99 cm) E-L. Standards white, hint of pastel pink at midrib; Falls orange apricot; tangerine red beard. Champagne Snow X (Love Chant x Festive Skirt)., Tempo Two 1983/84.

Selling this year in New Zealand at 'Amazing Iris Garden', or 'Richmond Irises'.

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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Friday, October 21, 2011


29th & 30th October 2011
Showgrounds Park and Events Centre, Gisborne
Saturday 1.30 - 4.30 pm. Sunday 9.30 am - 3.30pm.
Entry fee is $4 adults, children free.
For further details contact the Show Secretary, Anne Pole, 06 868 5245

Campbell Hall, Knox Presbyterian Church Hall, Canada St, Morrinsville
Friday, November 4th
Entries at the hall on the day
Open to Public: 12 noon to 4:00 p.m.
Inquiries: Jan Kerkin
Ph: (07) 889 3607

5th November 2011
Saturday 12.00 noon until 4.00pm
Martinborough Town Hall,
Admission Gold coin Donation
For a Show Schedule and All Inquiries
Contact Maree Roy (06) 3069319 or Yvonne Harvey (06) 3069553

Young Citizens Hall, Chapel Street, Kuripuni, Masterton
Display of Irises, Plant Sales,  and Christmas Raffle
1pm-4pm, Saturday, 5th November 2011 Admission $2.00
We encourage everyone to enter their blooms. You do not have to be a member to exhibit

12th, & 13th November
Palmerston North Leisure Centre,
569 Ferguson St., Palmerston North
Saturday 1.00 - 4.00. Sunday 10.00 - 4.00pm.
Free Admission.

12th, &  13th November, 2011
Saturday 1.30 - 4.30 pm. Sunday 9.30 am - 4pm.
All entries must be received by 9.30 am on Saturday morning of the show
Judging commences at 10.30 am sharp
Horticultural Hall, Laings Rd, Lower Hutt
Entry fee is $2.50 adults, children free.
For further details contact the Secretary,
Mrs Cyrienne Robertson (04) 566 2420

The Nelson Horticultural Society Inc. are holding their Rose and Iris Show

 in conjunction with the NELSON GROWABLES GARDEN FAIR
Sunday 13th November 2011 at the at the Granary at Founders Park, Nelson

 from 10.00 am -5 pm
For further details contact the Show Secretary, Carol Hughes, (03) 547 9563

Showgrounds, Burnside Avenue, Hawera
18h & 19th November 2011
Home Industries, Cattle, Equestrian, Dog Trial, Tractor Pull, Tug of War, Kidzone.
Visit their Web Site
or email for Schedules and entry forms.
Show Office 06 278 8613.

19th & 20th November, 2011
Saturday 2.00 - 5.00 pm. Sunday 1.00 - 4pm.
Caroline Bay Hall, TIMARU
Entry fee is $3.00 adults, or a membership ticket, children free
For further details contact the Secretary, Ted Falvey (03) 684 3760

The above is a list of New Zealand 2011 Iris Shows to date. If you require a show schedule or times to stage your blooms please do not hesitate to contact the Show Secretary's listed above. This post will be updated when I am notified of more shows. If you have a show you would like to add to the list leave details as a comment.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Intermediate Bearded Iris " FURIOSO"

Bright little bugger isn't it !!!!! The Iris worlds 'High Vis' bloom. Photo taken this morning with an overcast sky. Four or five shots where brilliant but I have chosen this shot to accentuate the amazing Saturn red beards.

Tempo Two Iris, Daylilies, Hosta catalogue 1996-1997 season.
FURIOSO (Blyth 96 Aust.) EM. 24"
Bright and furiously coloured Median Iris. Standards are bright mid pink; falls are bright orange apricot and the whole flower is set off with Saturn red beards. A contrasting smooth bi-colour. Well branched stems with lots of flowers out at once and it is a excellent grower. Sweet Perfume ( Mango Kiss' X 'Bogota ) Sdlg. C72-A. $15.00

AIS Checklist 1999
FURIOSO (Barry Blyth, R. 1996). Seedling C72-A. IB, 24" (61 cm), EM. Standards medium pink; falls orange apricot; beards bright Saturn red; sweet fragrance. Mango Kiss' X 'Bogota'. Tempo Two 1996/97.

Selling this year in New Zealand at Amazing Iris Garden, or Richmond Irises for the princely price of $7.50 or $8.00 respectively so get your orders in before it sells out. It has also recently been reported that it is available bagged in North Island Garden Centres so go and ask them for one and if they don't have one get them to order one for you.

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Iris albicans

Growing at home and a welcome addition blooming this morning, I.albicans is an early flowering, slightly fragrant heirloom iris of historical significance and could be classified as an Intermediate Iris. I. albicans is a natural hybrid that has found favour with gardeners for at least the last 800 years. Marc Simonet in his published thesis ‘The Genus Iris, Cytological and Genetic Research’ states that I.albicans among other listed species possesses (2n= 44) number of somatic chromosomes indicating that this species arose through a cross with a 40 chromosome species and a 48 chromosome species making it a hybrid.

There is a lot of conjecture about what ‘albicans’ parents are likely to be and to the precise origin of its homeland. No real proof has been forthcoming supporting any of these theories, and should there still be an interest in Irises in another 200 years not much will have changed regarding the current status of I.albicans.

I.albicans along with, Florentina, I. pallida, and I. germanica were all used in the production of Orris Root. The following could give much for the reader to consider;

CORNELL MEMOIR 100 Study of Pogoniris Varieties Austin W.W. Sand July 1926
I. albicans (species, Lange 1860)
Distribution; Perhaps native of Yemen in Arabia and widely distributed by, the Mohammedan’s, Spain, France, Crete, Cyprus, Asia Minor. Colour effect a self, standards and falls, white. Standards pure white; shape, rounded oblong, narrowing suddenly; haft short, canaliculate, without hairs, faintly veined with yellow. Falls, white; haft white; faintly reticulated with greenish yellow veins which do not extend to blade; blade obovate, haft wedge- shaped. Minor parts; beards, front white hairs with yellow, base deep yellow; style-branches ovoid, white, keeled; Crest narrow, pointed, serrate; pollen cream-coloured; spathe-valves navicular, broad green, hardly scarious at all or only in upper third when the first flowers open, 1½ inches long. Growth; rootstock a stout rhizome; habit compact; foliage leaves ensiform, somewhat wider than those of, I. germanica but the 15-18 inch long, branched, inflorescence resembling that of I. germanica but the lateral flowers more closely set on shorter branches which are almost entirely concealed in broad green bracts, terminal head sometimes 3-flowered; tube equal to or slightly longer than ovary; pedicle very short; ovary ¾ inch long, trigonal, with slight group on each face; stigma entire; filaments white, about equal links to the cream-coloured anthers.
Outstanding qualities; Compact branches of inflorescence, foliage stiff and broader and more twisted than in I. germanica no hairs on haft of standards falls appear pointed due to curling. Synonyms; I. florentina 1789, I. alba 1798 (might be I. germanica var. florentina),
I. albicans var. Madonna, 1892, differs from the type only in its blue color and its purple flushed spathes

'The Unconventional Garden', Sir Arthur Hort, published 1928. Pages 206-207
To complete the account of wild T.B.’s, mention should be made of the lovely pure white Iris called albicans, which is fairly common in our gardens and which does not come under any of the three clans just described. This plant seems to set no seed and to produce no effect upon, wherefore (unhappily) it has no place in the record of the origin of the garden hybrids. (In 1927 I for the first time obtained a few apparently sound seeds; what may come of them remains to be seen) But it has an interesting story to tell. It was conjectured by Dykes to be an albino form of an Arabian species called Iris Madonna, whose flower is of a bluish purple shade. Now this typical form is not common anywhere, but albicans is found all along the Mediterranean coast where ever the Moslem invaders from Arabia penetrated, having been planted by the Mohammedan in their cemeteries. It looks as though they had bought it with them as they wandered westward. I have grown forms of it, from Egypt, Greece, Sicily, Spain, Madeira ; the finest perhaps is one which I begged from the hotel garden in Syracuse which overlooks the “quarry” where the ill-fated Athenians were starved to death in B.C. 413. I have recently had some confirmation of Dykes' surmise having noticed a flower of albicans with the purplish streak on the pure white, a reminiscence of the purple-flowered Madonna from which it sported centuries ago.

'Rainbow Fragments', Chapter 2, Historical and Otherwise, J Marion Shull, 1931.
The lack of certainty as to place or time of origin or native habitat in case of indigenous species, leaving all to veriest conjecture, is due no doubt to various causes. All history of every kind is lost in a sufficient degree of antiquity, and doubtless some of these plants were cultivated longer ago than there were records to bear out. Then the very nature of the rhizomes, so constituted that they can withstand months of ill treatment and still retain the spark of life, capable of quick recovery when conditions again are right, has made both purposed and accidental distribution relatively easy. Thus Iris albicans, whose origin is likewise lost beyond recovery, is known to have made a special appeal to the Mohammedan’s faithful who, whether they invested it with sacred character or merely adopted it as a conventional ornamentation, made habitual use of it upon the graves of their dead, and so it spread where ever the roving character of the fiery followers of the Prophet lead them to live and die. Thus it doubtless spread westward from Asia Minor across northern Africa and into Spain, whence it must have been carried to the New World, since it is found, apparently escaped from cultivation, in the region of the Sierra Madre in Mexico.

 Hardy Bulbs, Volume I, 'Iridaceae', Lt.Col.Charles Hervey Grey, Published Williams & Norgate, London, 1937.
albicans, Lange. VII. Often listed as I.
florentina. It is of obscure origin, as it is widely distributed as a cultivated and a naturalised plant throughout southern Europe. In all probability it was introduced from Arabia the Mahomedans, who always use it as a cemetery plant. The rhizome is solid, compact; the leaves thick, rigid, those in the centre of the clump having a spiral twist; the blade of the falls obovate, pure white, the haft cuneiform, with a few pale green lines, the beard mainly deep yellow, with a few white hairs, yellow tipped in front; the standards oblong, pure white, of good substance, with a narrow, canaliculate haft; the styles White, ovate; the crests narrow, acute. The flowers are produced in May. It requires a warm situation and a fairly stiff, well-drained soil.
 var. Madonna, hort. Sprengel. A form with blue purple flowers. Its needs are identical with those of the type.

'IRIS' Fritz Köhlein pg.196
Iris albicans Lange
In 1860, Lange gave this name to the white Iris which he found in the vicinity of Almeria, Spain. The actual homeland of this Iris is probably the Arabian Peninsula; it was disseminated during the wave of Islam expansion over Africa and South West Europe, carried along to be planted on graves of former Muslim warriors. Grows all over the Near East, in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. The Spaniards carried it to Mexico. Thus I. albicans is also found growing wild all over these countries as a volunteer from gardens. It grows on sunny embankments and slopes. Planted on graves in many Moslem regions.
I. albicans can easily be distinguished from I. florentina the other old, white Iris by its branching habit. While I. florentina has good branching, the blossoms of I. albicans are held quite close to the stem. I. albicans also has no hair at all at the base of the standards, and its spathes are more or less papery at the top when the plant blossoms. I. albicans has somewhat wider leaves that tend to twist, a bit giving the plant and unusual appearance. The bottom colour is pure white in the beard is yellow.
Lange called this widespread white form I. albicans; a less common form was blue-violet blossoms, found in Yemen, has been called I. albicans ‘Madonna’ or I. albicans var. madonna. Except for the blossom colour, both variants are practically identical.
This Iris is for collectors or a welcome souvenir from a vacation. It is very robust and warm regions with good drainage, but acts like a “spoiled brat” in cold areas. More prone to rhizome rot than I. florentina. New leaves develop fairly late in the fall, so that either the tips or the whole leaf suffers in the cold winters. Blooms freely in the right location. Division is preferable; rarely propagated by seed. Number of chromosomes 2n= 44 (M. Simonet 1932).

'The Iris', Brian Mathew, 2nd. Edition. 1989
Iris albicans Lange. There has frequently been some confusion between the species, which occurs wild in Arabia, and Florentina, the albino version of I. germanica. In 1802 it was beautifully figured by Redouté under the name of I. florentina and it was not until 1860 that it was given specific status, when Lange named it I. albicans.
It is a stocky plant usually 30 to 60 cm in height in the wild, with short broad (1.5-2.5cm wide), very green-grey over wintering leaves which are abruptly narrowed to an incurving tip. The scheme has one to three terminal flowers and is often unbranched but may have one in either sessile lateral flower head. The sweetly scented flowers are about 8 to 9 cm in either pure white or blue, produced from very broad blunt bracts which are green or purplish tinted in the lower half or two thirds, and papery-transparent in the upper part. The beard is a white hairs, tipped with yellow, and there is a greenish-yellow flush to the hafts of both the falls and the standards. It is the blue-flowered form has been given the name ‘Madonna’.
‘Florentina’ is easily distinguished from I. albicans because the bracts are almost wholly brown and papery at flowering time, the lateral flowers are stemmed and the flowers are very slightly flushed with pale blue, not is pure white as in the white form of I. albicans. Additionally, ‘Florentina’ has narrower leaves which are green in colour.
I. albicans is a native of Saudi Arabia and the Yemen Arab Republic where it grows in dry rocky places or on banks at altitudes up to 2700 metres. New material has been collected in recent years and introduced into cultivation and it seems to be a ‘good’ wild species. Both the blue and white forms occur in natural populations, although the latter seems to be much the most common. It seems fairly certain that I. albicans has been distributed through western Asia by man as a plant to adorn graveyards.

'The Book of Iris' by R. Lynch published in 1907 listed 'Florentina' as I.florentina a species, and surprisingly lists albicans as Var.albicans a hybrid of florentina.
Var. albicans (Lange) Ic.Plant. Hisp., t. 33. Flowers pure white; perianth tube ¾ in. long; limb 3 in; beard pale yellow. The spathe-valves are shorter than those of the type, and the inflorescence is more compact. Flowers later than I.florentina. There is a garden form named “Princess of Wales.” Native from Spain to Cyprus.

Kelway's Hardy Perennials and Colour Borders 1929/30 page 37

May-Flowering Irises (Intermediate Bearded Irises)
Albicans, Princess of Wales, purest white, very handsome: May and June. Award of Merit, R.H.S., to KELWAY AND SON. 9d.each 7/6 doz. 2½ ft.

Courtesy  W R Dykes 'The Genus Iris'

AIS Checklist 1929
Albicans. TB-W1 (Lange-1860-S-Arabia); Kjoeb. Vidensk. Meddel. 76. 1860; Wal. 1879; Fos., J.R.H.S. 15; 3.Oct.1889; Berry. 1929; Class 1, AAA 119; A.M., R.H.S. 9 June 1891, shown by Kelway as Princess of Wales; H.C. R.H.S. 18 May 1916, AA clvii ; YEMEN I.; alba, Savi; florentina, Koehler; florentina Kunze; florentina, lam.; florentina, Red.; florentina, Tratt.;73;70;72.

Photo Credit and Copyright Iris Hunter

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tall Bearded Iris "CABARET ROYALE"

Take crisp medium blue tinted lavender standards, slightly darker violet in the midribs, some ruffled and flaring velvety falls in black violet with white veining on the hafts, add the bushy tangerine beard – and voilà !
With its excellent branching and a sound, vigorous plant which shows quick increase, this child of the seventies, 'Cabaret Royale' is a much loved neglecta and an ancestor to Barry Blyth's highly respected  'In Town'.
The outpouring of white veining from the heart of the bloom would have been frowned upon by the Iris Cognoscenti in the seventies but today is now quite the trend.  
At 36 years old 'Cabaret Royale', which can re-bloom, puts on a lovely display in the garden.  Who would have thought Jean Stevens' 'Sunset Snow' would be in the ancestry?  'Sunset Snows' stars as the pollen parent to the pink amoena 'Twist and Shout'. This classic iris was sold to me in New Zealand many years ago labelled as 'Witch's Wand', surely with a smidgen of research they could of labelled it "One of Witch's Wand grandparents" which would of been a lot more appropriate.

There is a dilemma that 'Cabaret Royale' and many other irises of the seventies have in becoming 'Historic Irises'  (because of their thirty years + age). Their form and colouration is not too dissimilar from recently introduced 'Modern Irises'. Let me give you an example; Just how much difference is there between 'Cabaret Royale'  and Paul Blacks 1999 introduction ,'Habit' with its simple flower form?(and a child of 'In Town').  Begging the question that the gardening public is asking  - just how much of a difference is there between a recently classified  Historic Iris and some Modern iris these days????

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1981,  “Varietal comments on Australian T.B. Irises”,  page 50, J. E. Venner.
Jack Venner writes how a selection of Australian raised Tall Bearded irises performed in Essex.
Cabaret Royale (Blyth 76) This Iris created a definite impression when first seen in flower, being one of the first neglectas with bushy, tangerine beards. The standards are a light blue, ruffled with lacy edges and flaring falls are purple with a black sheen. It is a good grower and will satisfy most Irisarians who are tolerant of haft markings, but for the purists there is a new variety bred from it named 'Magic Man' (Blyth 79) that is said to be a all-round improvement and may not show so-called haft defects.

The Iris Yearbook (BIS), 1982,  “Varietal comments on Australian T.B. Irises”,  page 60, C.E.C. Bartlett.
Cy Bartlett writes about a similar range of  Australian raised Tall Bearded irises and how they performed in Somerset. The garden at Cannington presented a complete contrast with Jack Venner's garden in Essex.
Cabaret Royale (Blyth 76) At the opposite end of the scale from the quite calm of 'Asian Empress,'  'Cabaret Royale' is an Iris people love or hate. I.e. must admit that I find that it shreiks just a little too much for me. A blue and black neglecta, heavily haft marked with white and to crown it all violent, bright tangerine red beards. To add yet more colours this style arms of light blue are tipped and washed with brown. You certainly wouldn't overlook it in the garden! Not a particularly good grow for me either.

Tempo Two, Barry and Lesley Blyth, East Road, Pearcedale, Victoria, Australia, Season 1983-84
CABARET ROYALE (Blyth '76 Aust.) M-ML 36". Standards are erect, lacy edged and ruffled. They are light biue. Falls are wide, ruffled and very flaring, colour is velvety blue black. Beards are coral tangerine and bushy. Style arms are light blue with a lacy brown edge. Branching is good, as is increase (Panoramic x Twist & Shout). HC '76. $7.00

AIS 1979 Checklist
CABARET ROYALE    (B. Blyth, R. 1975). Sdlg. G104-1. TB 36" (91 cm) M-ML. S. light blue with violet infusion around midribs; light blue style arms tipped brown; F. black violet; coral tangerine beard. Panoramic X Twist and Shout., Tempo Two 1976/77.

As always clicking on the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version. Reproduction in whole or in part of this post, its opinions or its images without the expressed written permission of Terry Johnson is strictly prohibited. Photo credit and copyright Terry Johnson and Heritage Irises ©.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

New Zealand Tall Bearded Iris "IRWELL DESTINY"

Another pleasant high quality surprise 'Irwell Destiny', by Ron Busch is a rich Rosy violet based Plicata with golden style arms giving the blooms a haunting inner golden glow, burnt orange coloured beards add the finishing touch. Bloom has excellent proportionate form, the  ruffled standards are closed but not tightly so, the ruffling continues in the Falls that are a warm white with the distinct edging of rose violet complemented by an attractive spoke pattern radiating from the beards. Unconfirmed reports of re-blooming last season. Unfortunately 'Irwell Destiny' is an  Iris with lost parentage. The up side, it is definitely   fertile.
Available from Wendy Begbie's "Amazing Iris Gardens", and this season Wendy is introducing four of Ron Busch irises, Irwell Aristocracy, Irwell Courage, Irwell Destiny, and Irwell Tribute. Be in quick to order these splendid New Zealand Bred Irises as they will be in much demand!!

New Zealand Hybridisers Checklist
IRWELL DESTINY.  Ron Busch Reg., 2007. Sdlg. K28 TB. 40″, (102cm). EM. S. Rose purple; style arms orange yellow, rose purple midrib and lip; F. White ground, ¼″  rose purple plicata marking; beards orange. Parentage unknown. Amazing Iris Gardens 2011

Click here to visit the web site

I would like to give a huge hat tip to Wendy Begbie, the owner of the brilliant “Amazing Iris Garden” for growing and promoting New Zealand Bred Irises and for supplying the above fantastic photo, and also a Big Hat tip to Ron Busch, a most discriminating hybridiser.

As always clicking on any of the above image's will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.

Photo credits and copyright Wendy Begbie

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